DESPITE protests by parents, Yarmouth Primary School is a step closer to relocating to Freshwater after an Isle of Wight Council cabinet vote last night (Thursday).

The proposal, put forward by Cllr Paul Brading, cabinet member for children’s services and education, is to close All Saints' Primary School, Freshwater, on April 3, 2020.

The pupils would then move to Yarmouth Primary School, which would be expanded with the number of pupils in each year group doubling from 15 to 30.

Yarmouth would then be closed and relocated to the All Saints site once refurbishment works are completed, estimated to be in September 2021.

The decision has been made because the local authority needs to address the surplus of school places in the West Wight area.

Protesters ­dressed in Yarmouth yellow stood outside County Hall before the meeting with a sign reading, 'Keep Yarmouth School in Yarmouth.'

The council has said Yarmouth primary is not being closed, only relocated to Freshwater with its current staff.

But Jill Cowley, whose grandchildren attend Yarmouth, said it was 'a euphemism' to say it was not being closed.

The cabinet voted eight to one in favour of the proposal.

Cllr Stuart Hutchison, the ward councillor for West Wight, was the only cabinet member to vote against the recommendation.

He said he thought the decision was 'flawed' and should be reconsidered.

He said the concerns of the school governors carried 'a weight of educational quality and should be listened to.'

His speech was applauded by the supporters of Yarmouth school in the public gallery.

Cllr Brading said he made the recommendation because All Saints has been rated as 'requires improvement' by Ofsted since 2013, while Yarmouth Primary is rated ‘good.'

However, the All Saints site was viewed as the better site for a school. Cllr Brading said it made sense to use the buildings closest to where most of the children live.

Seven children attending the Yarmouth school live in the town, while 69 live in Freshwater and Totland.

Cllr Brading said: "It also makes the most sense strategically in terms of future proofing buildings as the All Saints site is due to receive a multi million pound investment from the Department for Education to substantially improve and replace the existing buildings."

However, one protester said that the school was only rated 'good' in its present site and criticised the plan to move children during the academic year, which she said was proven to damage academic achievements.

A public notice of the cabinet's intended decision is due to be published next Friday. Following that, people will now have nine weeks, until Friday, September 20, to make any further comments before the cabinet makes a final decision on October 10.

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